Software industry veteran and University of Southern California
Viterbi School alumnus Ken Klein has provided an $8 million gift to
found a new institute for undergraduate engineering student life.
The new Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life (KIUEL) will
bring young students into the fold of the engineering community with an
array of academic, social and career services.
“This institute will create a wonderfully new environment for our
undergraduates, one that will contribute to their life outside of the
classroom, by giving them the support, mentoring, social networking,
and counseling they really need to succeed,” said Viterbi School Dean
Yannis Yortsos in announcing the gift.
“We are deeply grateful to Ken for his support,” he said. “Ken is
not only a great Trojan who cares about his school, but he is a
wonderful role model for young engineering students.”
Klein, who earned a bachelor of science dual degree in biomedical and
electrical engineering in 1982, said the KIUEL institute will serve as
an anchor for engineering students, who need more guidance and
counseling in their early years of undergraduate work than they do in
“I wish that I had had an institute like this to turn to when I was an
undergraduate,” he said, “because I know how tough the engineering
curriculum can be and what a little help can do.”
The new institute is the first of its kind in the nation for an
engineering school and will become a nerve center for all activities
related to undergraduate engineering student life, Klein said.
These will include student government, engineering club activities,
competitions, social, leadership and career-oriented programs, and an
array of new programs and services yet to be designed.
“The timing could not be better,” Yortsos added. “With our brand new
Ronald Tutor Hall, we have created a vibrant, bustling hub for student
life. Now, during our centennial celebration, we begin phase two to
design an institute that will provide students with all of the support
services, social and cultural outlets, and career counseling they need
to make their years at USC meaningful, productive and successful.”
Dean Yannis Yortsos, Ken Klein, and USC President Steven B. Sample at
the Viterbi School gala celebrating 100 Years of
USC Engineering. Steve Cohn photo.
The KIUEL institute will be located on the second floor of Tutor Hall,
adjacent to the Baum Family Student Lounge, which was designed for
students to study, socialize and relax. Other student offices on the
second floor of Tutor Hall currently include a full service career
services program and interview rooms; collaboration rooms for group
study; the Center for Engineering Diversity; the Women in Engineering
program office; an academic, writing and tutoring resources center;
student organization offices; and a multipurpose presentation room.
Several of these functions will expand under the umbrella of the new
“The institute will make a profound statement about the value we place
on undergraduate education and the importance of supporting these
talented young students as they pursue a rigorous academic path,”
Yortsos said. “It will help tremendously in their recruitment and
retention. It’s not only important to us that they succeed, it’s
important to society that they succeed.”
Klein is president, chairman of the board and chief executive officer
of Wind River, a global leader in device software optimization, which
is based in Alameda, Calif. With 20 years of software industry
experience, he has had a tremendously successful career building small
software companies into major revenue-earners.
He serves on the board of Tumbleweed Communications, in Redwood City,
Calif., and is a member of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Board
Klein lives with his wife, Natalie, and two sons in Atherton, Calif.